Proposed legislation might force Apple to sell App Store

Proposed legislation might force Apple to sell App Store

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App Store
The App Store might have to become a separate company from Apple.
Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash CC

A bipartisan bill expected to be proposed in the U.S. congress would, if passed, have an enormous effect on Big Tech. The legislation, reportedly called the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, might force Apple to make the App Store a completely separate business not under its control.

At the heart of the bill is the statement, “It shall be unlawful for a covered platform operator to own or control a line of business, other than the covered platform, when the covered platform’s ownership or control of that line of business gives rise to an irreconcilable conflict of interest,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

That said, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act is a long way from becoming law. It has yet to even be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. If it gets approval from that chamber it would also have to win approval from the U.S. Senate.

And Congress doesn’t have a strong track record of heavily regulating Big Tech. The bill would affect Amazon, Google/Alphabet and Facebook as well as Apple, and these companies have almost always successfully lobbied against significant regulation.

Does the App Store represent a conflict of interest?

Even if the Ending Platform Monopolies Act goes into law, it doesn’t automatically mean Apple would be forced to spin off the App Store the next day. There would almost certainly be a years-long legal battle over whether the iPhone software store is “an irreconcilable conflict of interest.”

A major topic of the debate would certainly be the Apple Music subscription service, which competes directly with Spotify. Just as Apple AirTag competes with Tile. Accusations that the App Store is anticompetitive played a signifant part in the recent Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit.

The proposed legislation clearly targets Amazon, which sells products made by other companies and at the same produces its own rival products.